“… managed to exploit this sense of nostalgia and imagination that everyone (no matter their age) can relate to, which made for a brilliant experience.”
Last night I re-watched a movie that I loved when it first came out and, surprise, the feeling is still there. The Lego Movie follows Emmet (Chris Pratt), a construction worker who does his best to fit in, when he discovers a magical piece that will thwart the evil plans of President Business (Will Ferrell) and save the entire world. To complete his journey Emmet has to work with all of his new friends, the master builders. Everybody is there; Batman, Gandalf, Shaquille O’Neal, you name it.
Right off the bat I want to mention something that was kind of weighing on me while watching The Lego Movie, and that was the fact that I didn’t seem to find it as funny as when I first watched it. This was really strange because I haven’t seen it since it was in theatres, but for some reason a lot of the jokes were just getting smirks out of me instead of huge laughs like I remember them getting when I first saw the movie. Of course it has been a few years since I saw The Lego Movie, so it is very possible that I am looking back on the experience with rose-coloured glasses, but it was kind of weird to not enjoy a movie as much as I remember enjoying it the first time. Toward the end of the film the jokes kept getting better and better, and by the end I was laughing hysterically almost constantly, but the beginning still stands as a very strange experience for me. I’m not sure if I grew out of thinking the jokes are funny (though I doubt that), if similar jokes were done in other movies, or if the beginning of the movie just isn’t that funny. Anyway, despite my brief existential crisis I had a wonderful time watching The Lego Movie. One of the biggest accomplishments of The Lego Movie is being able to unite all of these classic brands that people have loved for years. You have Lord of the Rings, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, DC Superheroes, and all of it was wrapped in a lovely Lego presentation. This movie had something for everyone, and the most important thing about The Lego Movie was that it nailed the feel of playing with Lego as a kid. The way that these characters were able to mingle and interact with one another is something that only occurs in the minds of children when they are quietly playing with the toys that they got for christmas that year; but this sensation was taken from our minds and put on a screen in front of us. The best part of it is everyone does it, so despite these memories being very close to us they are also close to everyone else as well. Instead of The Lego Movie being so niche that only a few people really love it, it managed to exploit this sense of nostalgia and imagination that everyone (no matter their age) can relate to, which made for a brilliant experience.
The Lego Movie, being a kids movie, has a responsibility to have a message of some kind in its story; and it does this in a wonderful way. The lessons that are taught throughout The Lego Movie are absolutely wonderful, and they re able to transition from one message to another flawlessly. The film starts by showing Emmet as kind of a drone. He likes what he is told to like, he does what he is told to do, he follows the instructions exactly. This isn’t a bad thing but The Lego Movie knows that, despite having to do exactly that when you get older, kids should be able to express themselves without having to worry about others. So The Lego Movie decides to make its message about individuality. Then, later on in the film, we learn that while individuality is good it doesn’t get you too far in life. We then back-track a bit and learn that instead of being so individual that you are alone in the world, you have to be able to work as a team. The film essentially teaches us to find the happy medium wherein we can fit in and get things done, but also be true to ourselves. Then The Lego Movie rounds off its messages with one that everyone can relate to: Lego is meant for everyone. Don’t be the parent who has “adult” Lego that you refuse to let your kids play with. And also, don’t use super glue to keep your Lego sets together. Those last two messages are where the movie goes from good to great in my opinion; not in the messages themselves, but in the way they are presented. Those scenes where we meet “the man upstairs” are so heartfelt and wonderfully put together. It really is the glue of The Lego Movie, despite the film not needing glue because Lego pieces stay together very well on their own. The Lego Movie also has a great soundtrack, with its many variations of “Everything Is Awesome” and its original songs, and phenomenal acting. Watching The Lego Movie is like meeting friends in public, you get this weird sense of happiness when you can say “I know that guy” in reference to a voice actor that you have recognized; and the crazy part is that when you watch the credits there are still people that you missed.
My absolute favourite thing about The Lego Movie, past the comedy and the staggering amount of recognizable actors in it, is the animation. Now I’m going to be honest, I’m not sure exactly how The Lego Movie was made but if you told me that it was completely stop-motion I wouldn’t doubt it. This animation style is exactly why the movie is able to reach that sense of imagination that I mentioned before. Watching The Lego Movie isn’t like watching some fake characters do cool shit for ninety minutes, it is exactly like playing with Lego. The care that went into every single frame of this film is absolutely staggering. The fine details are not unlike the ridiculously detailed works that you would see from The Renaissance. That was a hyperbole, but it is true that you could tell that each and every portion of The Lego Movie was handled with care. The dents in the lego bricks, the thumbprints on some of the characters, the broken helmet that Benny has, and even the myriad of real-world items all give The Lego Movie an undeniable charm. All I can say is I hope that every single animator who worked on The Lego Movie was payed a shitload of money, because the work that they did is astounding.
Ultimately The Lego Movie is almost a conundrum. A movie that is about a line of toys has no right to be this good, and yet here we are. The Lego Movie gives us hilarious scenes, wonderful music, a large collection of great voice actors, and an animation style that will warm your heart. The Lego Movie is amazing to watch for anyone, no matter their age.
I give The Lego Movie an A